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Summer in winter: Enjoy the warm tastes and colors of summer

By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Content Agency on

Preheat the broiler.

Coat the chicken breast pieces with a little oil. Place 2 pieces, spaced apart, in a large, heavy-duty plastic bag. With a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy small saucepan, gently flatten the pieces to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/3 inch (6 to 8 mm). Repeat with the remaining pieces. Lightly season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Place the yellow and red bell peppers under the broiler and cook, turning, until their skins are completely charred. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel off the charred skins. Cut each pepper into 8 pieces and remove the stems, seeds and veins. Set aside.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and fill a bowl with ice cubes and water. Cut off the green parts of 8 scallions. Immerse the 8 scallion greens in the boiling water for about 15 seconds, then remove them with tongs or a wire skimmer and transfer to the ice water. Drain and set aside.

Place 1 scallion green and a piece each of the yellow and red bell peppers lengthwise on top of each flattened chicken piece. Starting at a narrow end, roll up to enclose the vegetables and securely tie each piece closed with 2 lengths of kitchen string.

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).

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Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is hot enough to swirl easily, carefully turn the skillet to coat its bottom. Add the chicken breasts and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and cook the chicken for 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven, use tongs to transfer the chicken to a plate, and cover with foil to keep warm.

Cut the remaining scallions in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining oil. When it is hot enough to swirl easily, add the scallions and saute, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and sherry, and cook until reduced in volume by about two-thirds, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream and simmer, stirring, until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low and, a little at a time, add the butter, whisking continuously. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon the sauce into the centers of four heated serving plates or a heated platter. Snip off the strings from the chicken breasts, cut each piece crosswise into 4 to 6 slices, and arrange them attractively on top of the sauce.



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